When it comes to fitness a lot of people have the main goal of shedding a few pounds and/or toning up their overall physique. Forget the Fad diets, the extreme Lo Carb diets, the detoxes and the never ending sit-ups. This will not get you the achievable aesthetics that you are looking for. Now, instead of putting yourself at an extreme caloric deficit, here are My Top 5 Tips To Get Lean.
Ladies, lets just clarify something… lifting weights WILL NOT make you bulky (another common misconception). Along with increasing your overall strength, weightlifting also increases your physical work capacity. Weightlifting decreases sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass and strength) which therefore promotes fat-free body mass. You should try to incorporate both isolated and compound movements into your training.
Isolated Movements: An isolated movement is completed in a way that allows one major muscle group to do majority of the work.
Some common isolation exercises include:
Flat, Incline or Decline Flyes (dumbbell, cable or machine)
Muscle Group Trained: Chest
Muscle Group Trained: Quads
Bicep Curls (barbell, dumbbell, cable or machine)
Muscle Group Trained: Biceps
Compound Movements: A compound movement is one that uses more than one major muscle group at a time (a key factor in weight loss and building overall strength).
Some common compound exercises include:
Deadlifts (many variations)
Primary Muscle Group: Posterior Chain (Hamstrings, Glutes, Back, etc.)
Secondary Muscle Groups: Much Of Lower Body, Much Of Upper Body
Squats (many variations)
Primary Muscle Group: Quads
Secondary Muscle Groups: Most Of Lower Body (Glutes/Hamstrings), Lower Back
Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Lat Pull-Downs (any type of grip)
Primary Muscle Group: Back
Secondary Muscle Group: Biceps
2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
For me HIIT was the ultimate game changer. Since incorporating HIIT into my daily routine I have drastically lowered my body fat percentage.
HIIT allows intense periods of work with minimal recovery. Interval training is beneficial because you can give maximum effort and increase the intensity of an exercise, while still maintaining your form. HIIT creates an oxygen deficit in your muscles because oxygen cannot get their fast enough. Therefore, your metabolism is kicked into overdrive and will continue to act like this after the gym. Thus you will continue to burn fat even after you complete your workout.
Here is an example of a really simple and versatile HIIT circuit that you can do anywhere.
Jump rope 3 minutes
Three circuits: 10 reps first round, 15 reps second round and 20 reps third round. Non-stop no rests.
Allow a 1 minute rest period between each circuit.
3. Reps and sets
Now when you have devised a training plan a common question is usually ‘How many reps and sets should I do per exercise?’. It is important to note that this varies from person to person and is dependent upon your goal i.e. weight loss, hypertrophy
Training for Hypertrophy
If you are training to increase muscle mass it is important to choose a weight by which muscle failure can be met by doing reps in the range of 8-12. Your weight should allow you to complete a minimum of 8 reps and a maximum of 12 reps for 4 sets. Allow a 1-2 minute rest period between exercises.
Training for Strength
If you want to increase your strength you need to gear your focus towards training with heavier loads (i.e. loads in the rep range of 1-6 reps). Aim to do 3 sets per exercise. Rest periods between sets fall within the range of 3-5 minutes depending on the person. If recovery is too short this can inhibit the completion of full sets.
Training for Endurance
This type of training aims to increase muscle endurance without necessarily increasing muscle mass. By doing this kind of training, lighter weights are usually used to complete 15-20 reps for 6 sets. Rest periods should be kept to a minimum as oxygen deficits and lactic acid build up will not necessarily act as limiting factors.
Completing an exercise for a given amount of reps x sets isn’t always about how fast you can do it. These different exercise tempos make exercises more challenging and allow you to focus on technique and form.
Eccentric: Also known as the ‘negative phase’. This is the amount of time your muscles are under load while lowering.
Isometric: The amount of time that you hold an exercise at the midpoint
Concentric: Also known as the ‘positive phase’. This tempo is focused on the amount of time your muscles subsequently shorten under load.
5. Frequency and duration of workouts
I get asked frequently how often I workout. It blows my mind that some people think I workout everyday 7 times a week.. which is not true. I workout 3-4 times a week for a maximum of 45 minutes. I try not to spend an excessive amount of time in the gym because it can be an overkill. This allows me to be more flexible with my training as I schedule all of my workouts around my daily schedule.
Remember: rest days are important! Your body needs time to recover especially after an intense workout session.
These are some of the life changing tips I have learned along the way to get me where I am today. Everybody is different. What has worked for me may not work for you. However, I think it is important to share my journey with others and the things that I have learned along the way. There is no quick fix to living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. This takes time, dedication, motivation and the drive to succeed.
Yes there have been many times that I have wanted to give up and throw in the towel but I think about why I embarked on this journey to begin with. I want to be the best version of myself. I want to be a happy, confident, strong, food loving person. I can happily say that 2 years later I am finally that person.
“Fitness is not about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be.”
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